Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) Overview

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) is a Veterans’ Affairs insurance program that offers low-cost coverage to eligible service members. It is available to veterans who have service-connected disabilities. The basic coverage amount is up to $10,000.

Can you apply?

You can apply for S-DVI if all of the following conditions are true. You:

  • Were released from active duty on or after April 25, 1951, and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, and
  • Were rated for a service-connected disability (even if only 0%), and
  • Are in good health except for any service-connected conditions, and
  • Apply within two years from the date we grant your new service-connected disability.

As a note, the VA states that an increase of a disability rating (like, from 0% to 30%, for example), or a rating of Individual Unemployability, which indicates that you can’t work, does not qualify you for S-DVI.

For example, I applied for S-DVI in 2014 after I retired and received a 70% disability rating. I was turned down for coverage under this program because I suffered from stage 3 chronic kidney disease. I was not considered healthy enough for the program in light of my disabilities. I was able to appeal the decision and get the basic coverage for my family’s benefit.

Can I increase my coverage?

If you have an S-DVI policy and become totally disabled and are unable to work, you can apply for an increase of up to $30,000 in extra coverage. This extra insurance is called supplemental S-DVI coverage.

To be eligible for coverage you must first apply for the coverage within one year from the date you receive notice of the grant of waiver. The other eligibility requirement is that you be younger than 65 years old.

What if my discharge is not honorable?

Since an honorable discharge is a requirement for coverage under S-DVI, there are steps you can take if you fall into any other discharge category.

First, you can apply for a discharge upgrade through the VA. If you can show that your discharge was connected to any of the following categories, then you have a strong case for an upgrade:

  • Mental health conditions, including PTSD
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  • Sexual assault or harassment during military service
  • Sexual orientation (including the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy)

Their application page is strictly confidential, so the answers you put down in support of your discharge upgrade are protected.

Once your application is submitted, the time it takes to review and process depends on the content and evidence you submitted as justification for your upgrade. Once it is approved, though, you will receive a DD215, which will show corrections to the DD214. These two forms must remain together until you receive an updated DD214. They may not send you one automatically, but you can use this link to apply for one. Just select,

“I received a discharge upgrade or correction, but my upgrade came in the form of a DD215, and I want an updated DD214.”

How do I apply for this great S-DVI benefit?

If you meet the criteria listed above, then there are two ways you can apply.

  1. Apply online for basic S-DVI coverage, or
  2. Download VA Form 29-4364 (PDF), the Application for Service-Disabled Veterans Life Insurance

Once you’ve filled out the paper form, you can either

  • Fax it to (888) 748-5822, or
  • Mail it to:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Regional Office and Insurance Center (RH)

PO Box 7208

Philadelphia, PA 19101

How much are the premiums?

The monthly amount you will pay each month (the premium rate) depends on a few different factors:

  • Your age
  • The amount of insurance you want
  • The coverage plan requested

Check out VA Pamphlet 29-9 for information on the premium rates and policies. (Be advised, this document is the most current document posted on the VA’s website and was last revised in May 2012.)

Are there waivers for premiums?

Yes! Under certain circumstances, the basic S-DVI insurance policy will allow for the waiver of premiums for veterans who are totally disabled. A veteran who is totally disabled and obtains a waiver for the basic policy must still pay the premiums for the supplemental S-DVI policy discussed above.

In order to apply for these waivers, you must download, fill out, and sign a Claim for Disability Insurance, VA Form 29-357. When completed, mail the form to:

Department of Veterans Affairs

Regional Office and Insurance Center (WP)

P.O. Box 7208

Philadelphia, PA 19101

S-DVI Claim Assistance

If you have questions about the Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance or a VA life insurance policy that starts with a “V’, “RH”, “J”, “RS”, “K”, or “W”, call the VA Life Insurance Center at 800-669-8477 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. EST.

Does it Matter?

The need for life insurance is never a fun conversation to have. It requires an uncomfortable discussion of what will happen after someone passes away. My wife and I agree, especially after having six kids, that it is necessary to have coverage adequate enough to care for the costs associated with the burial and to allow for an easier financial transition by eliminating worry over debt during a time of mourning.

The VA offers some decision-making tools to help with this process, including a pretty awesome Life Insurance Needs Calculator that can help you remember areas of finance that you might overlook in the planning stages. I’ve used it in the past and found it to be a great benefit. It’s not hard to fill out, but you will need any current balances for debts, bank accounts, investments, and the current coverage amounts for any insurance policies you already have. I highly recommend using this as a starting point to assess your life insurance needs.

(Image credit: Courtney Keating via Getty Images)

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About the author

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Robert Haynes is a retired Army infantryman who has a squad of kids and is married to an active duty Soldier. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, who spent his last few years in the Army as a Drill Sergeant. He is now a full-time dad, freelance writer, and out-of-work comedian.